Lack of government control, that's the paradise that Republicans and Libertarians long for. I certainly am not for too much government control, but some is needed, a healthy balance.
By STEVEN ERLANGER
Published: January 16, 2012
As the world was transfixed by the Titanic-like imagery of the partly submerged Costa Concordia and the frantic efforts to save the fuel-laden vessel in rough seas off the Tuscany coast, questions swirled on Monday about the enormous cruise line industry, which operates without much regulation.
While airline pilots are directed and guided by controllers on the ground, sea captains are considered to be in complete control. “It’s not like the aircraft industry, where you file a flight plan,” said Peter Wild, a cruise industry consultant at G. P. Wild (International) Limited, a consultancy outside London. Rather, at most cruise lines, company directors determine the routes, which are then transmitted to the captain and a navigating officer, who scrutinize the charted course but are meant to follow it.
For many years, the global cruise line industry has operated under a loosely defined system that tends to escape scrutiny by courts and regulators. Cruise line instances of crime, pollution and safety and health violations have often gone unpoliced because no single authority is in charge.
A United Nations agency, the International Maritime Organization, oversees maritime safety through international conventions, including one for the Safety of Life at Sea, known as Solas, adopted in 1914, which grew out of the global anger that stemmed from the loss of the Titanic in 1912. But the agency has no policing powers.
Passengers described delays and confusion, with unclear instructions and inexperienced crew members. Emily Lau, 27, and her husband, Benji Smith, 34, an American honeymoon couple on board, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “it was every man for himself,” Ms. Lau said. “The main thing is no one knew how to help because they were never trained. That is the cruise ship’s fault.”
“Cruising is a safer way to travel than air, but the investigation may take time, the story is getting global publicity, and people are unlikely to book until confidence returns,” Mr. Rollo said.